This week I shadowed Joey, an eight year veteran at Domino's Pizza in Seattle. I spent the day tossing around dough and learning why Domino's employees tend to stick around for a long time and are happy. One reason why? The managers and owners are willing to put on an apron and get dirty.
As a seasoned hourly worker, I can now say that the best feeling in the world is not being told what to do, but being shown what to do. I love seeing a manager who's willing to wash dishes or "do what needs to be done".
So far along our journey I've worked in two restaurants, and in both cases I've discovered a manager who has been there for more than eight years. Also in both cases, I've found multiple employees who have stuck around for years. What are these veteran managers doing differently than the rest of the food industry, where turnover is typically extremely high? They put on the apron. They get dirty. They are not above anyone else, but consider themselves an equal in the business.
It's a great lesson to be learned for anyone who's in an entry level position, such as myself. The lesson is: I'll never be promoted so high that I should stop doing the little things. So many of us want to become the boss so we can "work less," but it's a different kind of work when you finally get the promotion. You'll still work, just in a different way.
The kind of work you'll do is inspiring people and caring about their lives. As Joey taught me how to make pizza, he joked around with another one of the Domino's employees named Billy. They went back and forth, making fun jabs at each other all day. You could tell it was a family atmosphere. When giving him direction, I never once heard Joey talk down to Billy, but I could tell they each carried a mutual respect for each other.
Being promoted is a great honor but you should never think of it as a ticket out of work. You now have the opportunity to influence people, and the best kind of influence comes from doing and not saying. As the day went on I met Greg, the owner of 29 Domino's in the greater Seattle area. At this point, I wasn't even surprised when he put on an apron himself and started helping with orders.
Do you think he has to? Of course not. Nobody is going to tell Greg to "get to work". He owns the store, c'mon. He works there because he genuinely loves making pizza and being around his employees. He is willing to jump in the mix if his store could use the help. In fact, while I stole away his employees for interviews, he manned the prep table pushing out pizzas.
Greg says that sometimes he'll stop by a store during the rush hour if they're a little shorthanded. He'll wash his hands and begin working in the dough. He could have just told his employees work harder, but instead he jumped in and really helped them move faster.
Who would inspire you more: a manager who says go faster or one who says let me help and we can make it happen as a team? The latter, of course.
It's not every day you see managers and owners who are willing to do the little things. We hear about the horrible bosses of the world, but not the ones who are willing to show up on the front lines.
If you're in a scenario with a boss who talks more than they work, maybe it's not a bad idea to start looking around for another position. If you are a good worker and respectful, there are a lot of opportunities out there for anyone who is willing to work hard. Just call Greg–they're hiring up in Seattle.